This is my installment for the Blogger Small Group post (on chapter 5) and there is still time for anyone to join in if they like (see Blogger Small Group Rules/Guidlelines). Right now we are five weeks into a study on James, not need to try and catch up, just start in the same place we are and post your opinions.
Re-reading the book of James over the last few weeks has been great. James always has a real world perspective and he never holds any punches. This week was James, Chapter 5, and I thought the first section was quite appropriate for the holiday weekend we just had over here in the U.S.
This is going to be a shortened version this week since we were out of town all last week but that is probably a relief over last week.
From the Book of James, Chapter 5
In this chapter James breaks up the text into two sections. The first section titled, Misuse of Riches, and the second section titled Exhortation, meaning a call to take some kind of action. Then he ends in prayer with some great examples.
Misuse of Riches, (5:1-6)
This section brought it home for those of us living here in the United States. Perhaps that is because we just had Memorial Day weekend over here, but I think even the poorest or less fortunate over here have riches that people in other countries couldn’t imagine as a part of their normal routine of life, or riches.
Sometimes I think we (as Americans) put so much emphasis on material items that we do miss the focus of how to use some of these items to further the kingdom of God. This first section talks about how much we have, yet we use it for purposes that will fade away anyway.
3 Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is (E)in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!
In the NIV it refers to metals that have rusted and tarnished. Even gold and silver tarnish and are some of the most sought after metals still today. This storing up in the last days, to me, is referring to greed. How much is enough for us, how much do we actually need. Scripture tells us His salvation does not tarnish or rust.
I love the title to this section. Exhortation.
exÂ·horÂ·taÂ·tion [noun]: an utterance, discourse, or address conveying urgent advice or recommendations.
That sums up the book of James. An urgent advice or recommendation. James tells us to be patient and he then gives us the essence of patience, (v7-9), do not complain, strengthen your heart, and wait for the coming of the Lord.
James then gives us examples of patience in verses 10-13 and he ends in a prayer. This prayer is something that I have underlined in my Bible before. The need to be sensitive to others needs, and the importance of confessing our sins.
Something I take great comfort in when reading the last section is verse 16-17.
16 Therefore, (AO)confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be (AP)healed (AQ)The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
17 Elijah was (AR)a man with a nature like ours, and (AS)he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for (AT)three years and six months.
The great Elijah, was a man with a nature like ours. A nature like ours refers to the fact that he was a sinner as well. But he prayed. The bold effect above is my doing, not scripture. That is the key to me and I love that verse. The effective prayer can accomplish much, wow.